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The Wainwright Heritage Program promotes and conserves Wainwright’s heritage resources in order to enhance the cultural and economic vitality of our town.


The Wainwright Heritage Program engages the community, develops an ever expanding sense of heritage, celebrates our historic resources and invests in our future. Wainwright will continue to set the standard as the economic, cultural and tourism centre in our region.

Adopted April 14th, 2010

The Town of Wainwright Heritage Management Plan identifies practical and achievable objectives, actions and strategies to manage and protect Wainwright’s historic places and is meant to build upon the vision and policies already formulated for previous town planning policy. This Heritage Management Plan has been developed for the consideration of the Wainwright Town Council to provide an administrative and operational framework for the ongoing protection of Wainwright’s heritage resources. This plan will assist Council to direct heritage management in such a way that it could achieve the Towns specific and operational heritage objectives, and to promote local heritage in the community.

Historic Building Inventory Photo

The Town of Wainwright Heritage Inventory Project received funding from the Government of Alberta’s Municipal Heritage Partnership Program (MHPP) and the Town of Wainwright to prepare an inventory of Wainwright’s heritage resources that would meet the prescribed criteria for significance and integrity. The criteria used for this study to determine significance and integrity were identified by the province as meeting the requirements for listing on the Alberta and Canadian Register of Historic Places. To accomplish this process, the Town also did a Heritage Survey of the historic buildings and other structures more than 50 years of age. Information on file includes details of architectural characteristics, history, designation status, location and photographs. The Survey provides a base of knowledge upon which informed decisions relating to Alberta’s heritage resources can be made.

Wainwright Inventory Project Objectives

The main objectives of this project were:

  • To complete a thorough review of potential historically significant sites within and around the Town of Wainwright
  • To create a Context Paper that described Wainwright’s major historical themes and trends
  • To document, research, and conduct fieldwork to develop the Wainwright Historic Inventory
  • To evaluate selected sites in accordance with the provincial Municipal Heritage Resources Management Program
  • To prepare Statements of Significance for the selected resources

The 20 buildings and sites currently on the Town of Wainwright Heritage Inventory include:

  1. 1001 – 1 Ave – CN Station (Wainwright Museum)
  2. 10 St & 2 Ave – Memorial Clock Tower
  3. 109 – 10 Street – Billings Block (General Paint)
  4. 121 – 10 Street – OK Shoe Repair (The Cash Store)
  5. 124 – 10 Street – A.C. Armstrong Building
  6. 202 – 10 Street – The Wainwright Hotel
  7. 205 – 10 Street – Clark Building (Wainwright Association for Community Living)
  8. 207 – 10 Street – Ganderton’s (Donair Stop & Subs)
  9. 215 – 10 Street – Cork/ Walkers Jewelers (Royal LePage Stalco Realty)
  10. 217 – 10 Street – MacKenzie Kenny Law Office
  11. 218 – 10 Street – Morgan Building (Jack’s Place)
  12. 224 – 10 Street – Union Bank of Canaa Building (Voila)
  13. 302 – 10 Street – Washburn Building (Toys and Treasures)
  14. 304 – 10 Street – Patterson Building (Your Dollar Store with More)
  15. 318 – 10 Street – Carsell Building (Wainwright Jewellers)
  16. 320 – 10 Street – Tory Building (Wainwright Flower Cart)
  17. 1014 – 2 Ave – Wainwright Old Town Hall
  18. Petroleum Park – Pump Jack
  19. 1018 – 4 Ave – Watson/Mackenzie House
  20. 309 – 10 Street – Wainwright Post Office

Historic Building Inventory Photo

The area surrounding Wainwright was homesteaded in 1905-06. The original townsite was established by James Dawson in 1907 and was named Denwood.

The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (now CNR) arrived in 1908 and established a new townsite 4 km west of Denwood. The new site was to be a major divisional point and was named Wainwright after Mr. William Wainwright, 2nd Vice President of the railway. As a divisional point, it was intended that branch lines would extend from Wainwright to such places as North Battleford, Medicine Hat, Calgary and the Peace River area.

These original intentions triggered a quick growth of Wainwright, which became a Village in 1908 (pop. 450) and was incorporated as a Town on August 14, 1910 (pop. 1000). Although the plans of the GTPR did not materialize, Wainwright maintained its position as a railroad center and became the major service center for the surrounding agriculture industry.

In 1907, to preserve the endangered bison, the Canadian Government created the original Buffalo National Park on 160 square miles of land immediately south of Town. The area was fenced and stocked with several hundred head of buffalo from Montana. The herd grew to such an extent that annual round-ups began in 1921, shipping some animals to various parts of the world and slaughtering others. The round-ups continued until 1939 when all the animals were removed and the park was turned over to the Department of National Defence (DND). By that time over 39,000 head of bison were produced in the park.

Upon possession by DND, the park was converted to a training establishment fo rthe Canadian Army and became known as Camp Wainwright. In 1945-46, the Camp was used as a prisoner of war facility where over 1,000 German Officers were interned.

Camp Wainwright has been extensively developed over the years and is now known as Canadian Forces Base/Area Support Unit Wainwright and is one of the primary training areas in Canada, regularly hosting international exercises.

Oil and gas were discovered in the district in 1921 and since then have remained important industries for Wainwright.

Since 2000, the Town of Wainwright has partnered with the Alberta Main Street Program and the Alberta Heritage Resources Foundation who have granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to preserve and protect the historic downtown centre. This partnership has resulted in numerous studies and strategies to preserve and revitalize the downtown core that have produced draft Standards and Guidelines and streetscape recommendations that include street lights, wheelchair accessibility, sidewalks and traffic speed regulations.

These documents have been attached as appendices to the Town of Wainwright Historic Management Plan and can be assimilated into the new General Municipal Plan that is currently being developed by the Town of Wainwright Department of Development and Planning.

Visiting an historic place is an experience like no other. Whether it’s a county school or church, a commercial building on Main Street, or a significant cultural landscape, historic places convey the special meaning of our communities’ history and heritage. Historic resource designation protects places such as these for the appreciation and enjoyment of present and future generations. Under Alberta’s Historical Resources Act, both the Province and municipalities can designate and protect places of historic significance in the public interest.

Provincial Historic Resource designation is registered on a property’s Certificate of Land Title and is transferred with the sale of the property to subsequent owners.

Municipal Historic Resource Designation registers a protective bylaw passed by Council on the land title of the heritage property.

Wainwright’s Register of Historic Places:

  • The Wainwright Hotel – Buffalo Park Foundation (202 – 10 Street)
  • Wainwright Travel Centre – MacKenzie Kenny Law Office (217 – 10 Street)
  • Jack’s Place – Morgan Building (218 – 10 Street)
  • Voila! – Union Bank of Canada Building (224 – 10 Street)
  • Toys and Treasures – Washburn Building (302 – 10 Street)
  • Wainwright Jewellers – Carsell Building (318 – 10 Street)
  • Wainwright Flower Cart – Tory Building (320 – 10 Street)
  • Old Town Hall/Fire Hall (1018 – 2 Avenue)
  • Watson/MacKenzie House (1018 – 4 Avenue)
  • Pump Jack (Petroleum Park/305 – 14 Avenue)
  • Memorial Clock Tower (220 – 10 Street)

Detailed information of these Municipally Designated Resources can be found on the Alberta Register of Historic Places.

2008 was the Wainwright Centennial and the Town of Wainwright celebrated in various ways throughout the year with a featured week of celebrations in July. The Walk of Heroes was reenacted a number of times during the summer and celebrated well-known personalities who helped to mould the history of Wainwright. There was a buggy parade and the military presented us with a Freedom of the Town ceremony at Town Hall attended by many.

There was a formal gala event at the Communiplex, a Fresh Air Cinema at Wallace Park, our first A Taste of Wainwright and a Downtown Show and Shine. The Wainwright Rail Park celebrated the 100th anniversary of the railway in Wainwright and many community and district organizations also celebrated Centennial with events including the Anglican Church Celebration and the Giltedge Homecoming at Giltedge Hall.

July 1 was the biggest event with thousands of people coming to the Party in the Park which featured country stars Aaron Pritchett and Jessie Farrell and many other exciting activities which all day long and culminated with an incredible fireworks display at the end of the evening. The Town of Wainwright created a Commemorative Centennial Catalogue and the Town announced that the Old Town Hall would be restored as a major Centennial Project.

The Next One Hundred Years

As Wainwright becomes a large urban centre that services a significant rural district, we are proud to witness our growth and also aware that we must preserve our historic buildings and artifacts for future generations. It is fitting that Wainwright received a grant to create a Heritage Management Plan to identify practical and achievable objectives, actions and strategies to manage and protect Wainwright’s historic places meant to build upon the vision and policies already formulated for previous town planning policy.

Formulated to achieve successful results for Wainwright & District using existing heritage resources, the recommendation includes the Town of Wainwright municipally designating a number of buildings and historic resources in the community. New provincial funding from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program encourages municipalities to support their heritage and funds long-term, sustainable rehabilitation of such projects.

The recommendation also encourages a downtown plan to include current and proposed streetscape projects to enhance and encourage the downtown sector. This includes support for the historic community organizations that provide our major tourist and public attractions to include the Wainwright Museum, the Wainwright Main Street Project, the Rail Park and the proposed Regional Heritage Centre. The first two attractions draw visitors to the downtown sector and the Regional Centre will act as a tourist resource, a visitor information centre and an interpretive centre all of which promote all of Wainwright & District. Wainwright has a devoted and determined volunteer group of community organizations that must be supported to the fullest degree.

The Town of Wainwright has no existing provincial or municipal designations in its municipal boundaries but the owners of the Wainwright Hotel have made an application for Provincial Designation that is currently being assessed by the Province of Alberta. It is noted here that the Wainwright Post Office was evaluated by Public Works Canada in 1982 as part of a project reviewing heritage buildings in Alberta built before 1945 and at the time was listed as ‘preserve’ in their study. When buildings or artifacts are provincially designated or when the Town of Wainwright municipally designates buildings, these are added to the list of Alberta and Canadian Historic Resources and become eligible for provincial funding opportunities.

It is important that the Town of Wainwright works closely with the many important community groups to enhance and improve our community. There is strength in planning and development that involves everyone. Future development involves every aspect of a community from our sports and educational requirements to our history and our pride in our sense of place as part of the bigger picture which is Canada.

Wainwright Centennial Logo

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